The ICOM problem

I’m a little irritated at ICOM. My latest ham radio purchase was an ICOM IC-7100. Before that I bought an ICOM ID-5100A and an ICOM ID-50A. I generally like ICOM radios. They have some really nice features that competing radios don’t have.

However, I also used to have an ICOM IC-9700. And I sold it because of a design flaw in the radio. The design flaw has to do with the mic gain setting. If you are using this radio for FM… you would probably have the mic gain set to around 50%. Perfect. Until you want to use D-Star. When you want to use the radio for D-Star you will have to dial down your mic gain setting to around 15% to make it usable. This is serious inconvenience for people who are constantly scanning a mix of FM and D-Star repeaters/reflectors and wish to use the radio for both.

As I discovered today, the ICOM IC-7100 has a very similar problem. The perfect mic gain setting for me on analog FM and SSB is 50%. But to use the radio on a D-Star reflector… again… the mic gain needs to be adjusted down to 15-20%. Not a feasible situation when you are scanning dozens of FM repeaters and D-Star reflectors at the same time. Every time you want to talk, you’d literally have to see what mode you are in and adjust the mic gain before you key up.

This problem could easily have been solved by simply having separate mic gain values for each mode stored in the settings. But no. ICOM chose not to do that. They have one setting for all modes and as a result the setting must be adjusted when changing modes.

This mic gain problem goes way back. The ICOM 706 Mark II G had a very similar problem. If you were happily talking on SSB… you’d better turn your mic gain down before getting on an FM repeater or else you would blast people out of their chairs. Seriously? That was like 30 years ago. You would think ICOM would have learned by now.

As a result of being burned on this with multiple ICOM radios. I don’t see myself buying another piece of ICOM gear anytime soon.